Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-7117-5
Contemporary Romance, 2002
Kasey Michaels’s Be My Baby Tonight is a sad testament of why we must be careful before we take the plunge. The couple in this story marry for all the wrong reasons, just cannot communicate and instead resort to frustrating passive-aggressive methods, and in the end, stumbles upon a happy ending despite their best attempts to sabotage their lives unintentionally.
This book, by the way, is related to Love to Love You Baby, and the heroes of both books are baseball star twin brothers. Tim Trehan, the hero of this book, is a pretty superstitious guy. See, everything that happens to his elder twin – okay, three out of five things anyway – will eventually happen to him. His twin brother was injured, forced to retire, and ended up married in the previous book. Tim doesn’t want to be injured, he doesn’t want to retire, and he doesn’t want to get married. In some convoluted logic, he decides to marry the doormat of his schooldays, Suzanna Trent.
Suzanna knows she is in love with Tim ever since they were in kindergarten. She did all his homework, covered up his bases, and all but wiped his butt after he left the toilet. Despite never seen him for years, she knows she is still in love with him, and so she marries him.
She marries out of stupidity, and he marries her because… well, I don’t know what he is thinking, to be honest. The signs are all there for Suzanne to see: he won’t be wearing a ring, there is no honeymoon until after his season is over, instead of a romantic wedding, there’s Vegas and steak, and then there are her doubts. But she loves him! She has, since she was a kid. And we all know how deep that sort of love can be.
Eventually she finds out that why he marries her and kicks him out. But by then it’s too late. She’s pregnant. He learns that he loves her now – hey, I too would love someone who waits on me hand and foot like a braincell-free doormat – and attempts to woo her back. By wooing, I’m referring to long sessions of miscommunication or just no communication at all.
Suzanna is a very exasperating heroine. She does resent her inability to stop playing a doormat to the hero, and she knows that one smile from him and she’s all putty, but she doesn’t do anything other than to gripe in silence. She’s the queen of passive aggressive sulks. She doesn’t talk, instead she will clam up in silence and works herself deeper and deeper into resentment when Tim can’t read her mind. Then Tim will smile or unzip his pants and she’s all back at square one, playing doormat and letting him take her for granted until her resentment spills over. Then she’s clamming up and seething inside all over again.
Tim, being an immature boy who never grows up, naturally isn’t the most perceptive of guys. And why should he? The wife is happy to back over backwards (or rather, she shows a happy face when she is doing the bending over) to accommodate his schedule, moods, and all, so when she doesn’t speak to him, he is completely lost as what is going on.
And when they do talk, they’re talking about their childhood stuff! Not their current issues, but happy moments when she was a kid playing his doormat. Frankly, if the wife has issues of being taken for granted, the last thing she should do is to remind the husband of “happy days” when he was doing just that, taking her for granted.
There is an amusing theme of Tim suffering labor pains along with his wife, but it’s not enough to placate my exasperation with both Tim and Suzanna. They can’t talk, they can’t do anything right except when they are having sex, and don’t get me started about Suzanna using her pregnancy as another item in her arsenal of passive aggressive techniques.
In the end, despite a few weak chuckles here and there, Be My Baby Tonight is a tale of two immature kids badly in need of a marriage counselling session. Their happy ending is brought on by circumstances rather than anything of their own doing. “Lackluster” doesn’t cover this baby, try “Train Wreck Marriage”.